The Kandahar Offensive: Avoid the Snake Oil

The Kandahar Offensive: Avoid the Snake Oil

by Captain Jonathan Pan

Download the full article: The Kandahar Offensive: Avoid the Snake Oil

Sometimes doing nothing or doing less is better than doing anything in a counterinsurgency. However, the preference of action over inaction is deeply embedded within the United States military if not within the American culture as a whole. Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell and Capt. Mark R. Hagerott, of the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan, recently offered a new metaphor for describing Afghanistan: "think of the country as an ailing patient -- in many ways analogous to a weakened person under attack by an aggressive infection." To cure this infection, they've suggested that the body, mind, and spirit of the nation must be addressed. In my opinion, to prevent a stalemate or worse in the upcoming Kandahar operations, senior decision makers should avoid snake oil in an attempt at curing this infection.

Download the full article: The Kandahar Offensive: Avoid the Snake Oil

Captain Jonathan Pan is serving in Afghanistan. The views in this article are solely of the author and not those of the Department of Defense.

0
Your rating: None

Comments

Captain Pan: Please read my post. I'm not talking about voting, I'm talking about "collaboration." Your word, not mine. If you didn't mean it, say so.

Richard:

AWK received 31,749 votes to be on the provincial council. Maybe some of those votes were rigged, forged, or brought. But some are legitimate.

I'm not asking the Afghan people to vote for any particular candidate, in fact I don't really care. I didn't care when the Iraqis picked Al-Sadr either. That's their political choice.

Dan:

You are right, the elections might be rigged- but we won't know the consequences of that until after the fact.

Concise and astute and he makes just the right points on the "good idea fairy" products he calls snake oil, but he makes references to people being able to choose their district leaders. On my time on the ground here I'm tracking district leaders get appointed by Provincial, if not National Levels of government, therefore perpetuating the cronyism that goes on that's a main part of the corruption. Is something changing in an upcoming election? Will people actually be able to hold their district leaders accountable this time? If not, than that's a major fallacy in this article.

Captain Pan: Re: Ahmed Wali Karzai you tell us that "Whether or not these survival skills entail collaborating with insurgents in any shape, form or fashion doesn't matter." Don't you understand what is wrong with asking a man to risk his life to support a leader who is collaborating with the very people who are trying to kill him?

"Sometimes doing nothing or doing less is better than doing anything in a counterinsurgency. However, the preference of action over inaction is deeply embedded within the United States military..."

So, so freaking true. Having felt the burden of "doing something" from higher headquarters (from BCT and up) for a year in Iraq when doing nothing or not as much was the better course of action, I'm not surprised to read CPT Pan's frustrations. Let's hope LTG Caldwell and the NATO/ISAF consider his thoughts.

Nice piece that ties in what is observed tactically "boots on the ground" with strategic and operational issues. That said, there isn't anything really "new" here, just common sense that we seem to have to rediscover time and time again. CPT Pan deserves a "job well done" for a short and timely piece that cuts to the quick on what is happening and what should happen.

Great to see that there is someone on the ground who is looking at reality rather than parroting wrongheaded conventional wisdom. Hopefully his chain of command and the Embassy will pay attention to what he is saying.